Sports Envoy
Sports Envoy Program

Jen Welter

American Football

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Virtual

Dr. Jen Welter is the first female to coach in the National Football League (NFL). In the summer of 2015, she served as a linebackers coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Widely known as a trailblazer and pioneer in professional American football, she most recently served as a defensive specialist for the Alliance of American Football (AAF). Following her record-breaking accomplishment with the Cardinals, Welter became the head coach of the first Australian women’s national team in 2017. Welter became the first woman to play running back in a men’s professional football league with the Texas Revolution. In early 2015, Welter was hired as the first female coach in men’s professional football, helping coach the most successful Revolution season in franchise history. Prior to joining the world of men’s professional football, Welter had a highly decorated 14-year career in women’s professional football which included four World Championships, two gold medals as a member of Team USA in the 2010 and 2013 International Federation of American Football’s (IFAF) Women’s World Championship, and eight all-star selections. She was inducted into the first class of the Women’s Football Hall of Fame on November 30, 2018. Welter is committed to increasing access and opportunities in football. To empower women through football, Welter designed her signature program, “A Day in the Life,” Camp and continues to create a range of camps for girls and women through her GRRRidiron Flag Football Camp. Her initiatives go on to include everything a “Camp on the Corner” program for youth in under-served areas to publications like “Play Big: Lessons in Being Limitless from the First Woman to Coach in the NFL. ”Welter has served on the advisory board for the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame Game for Life Academy since 2017. She holds a doctorate degree in Psychology, a Master’s in Sport Psychology, and a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.

Rudy Garcia Tolson

Paratriathalon

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Colombia

Rudy Garcia-Tolson was born September 14th, 1988 in Bloomington, California. The youngest of 4 children. At age five, having already undergone 15 surgeries to correct a rare birth defect, Garcia-Tolson elected to amputate both legs above the knee. He opted for greater mobility and a full, active life with prosthetics. Undaunted, he began swimming, then running, and has been winning ever since! By age 15, he had won a Gold medal in the Paralympic Games breaking world records in swimming.

When he was eight years old, he stated that he would swim in the 2004 Paralympic Games. He was true to his word and won the gold medal in the 200 meter individual medley and broke the world record for his SM7 class.

In 2008 Beijing Paralympics, when he was 20, he again won the gold medal in the 200 meter Individual Medley event, breaking his own SM7 world record twice in the process. He also won bronze medal in 100m breaststroke SB7.

At the 2012 Paralympics in London, he broke the SM7 world record in 200 meter Individual Medley heat. In the final, both he and Yevheniy Bohodayko swam faster still. Bohodayko touched the wall first; Garcia-Tolson won silver.

As part of 2012 Paralympics, Rudy also qualified and competed on 100 meters and 200 meters track and field.

At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, Garcia-Tolson broke his PR (personal record) and gain back the AR (American Record) in 100m breaststroke SB7. In the 200meter Individual Medley again he broke his PR and won silver.

Rudy has spoken across the country to groups ranging from Fortune 500 companies to inner city public schools.

His blend of energy and humor inspires organizations and individuals to adopt his swim motto, No Legs No Limits, A Brave Heart is a Powerful Weapon, as their new standard of excellence

Rudy shares stories about choosing to amputate his legs at a young age, swimming in the Paralympics, and playing jokes with his prothetic legs to give motivation for overcoming adversity and reaching peak performance.

Lillian Narvaez

Special Olympics

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  United Arab Emirates

Lillian Narvaez is a coach for the Special Olympics. In 1987, she was chosen to coach the women’s basketball team that went to the World Summer Games in Indiana and after joined the Special Olympics New Jersey staff as a Program Representative. In 1989, she became the training director and the 1995 became VP of Sports.

Scott Weaver

Special Olympics

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  United Arab Emirates

Scott Weaver is the Senior Manager of Unified Sports and Sports Education for Special Olympics North America. His primary focus in this position is to support further development of Unified Sports and Sports Education (Coaches, Games Management, Competition Management, etc.) throughout the United States, Canada and Caribbean.

Scott’s entire career has been in the non-profit industry, spending 21 years in Special Olympics and the past 11 years as the CEO of the Arthritis Foundation’s Great West Region based in Seattle. His Special Olympics experience began in college as a fundraising and event management volunteer at Slippery Rock University. His college experience included an internship with Special Olympics Massachusetts where upon graduating he returned to work for the Northshore Arc and Special Olympics Massachusetts as the Area Training Director for Essex County.

After 4 years in New England, Scott was drawn to west and took a position as the Director of Sports and Training for Special Olympics Colorado before moving even further west to work for Special Olympics Washington. In 1995 Scott return to Colorado were he became the President/CEO of Special Olympics Colorado. During his tenure with Special Olympics, Scott was involved with the start of Unified Sports in Massachusetts as a coach and partner, developing Unified Sports in Washington and Colorado, implementing coaches training programs, developing innovative community-based sport programs, organizing events, volunteer management, participated on Special Olympics USA, was a technical delegate for snowshoeing at the World Winter Games in Anchorage and served on the International Sports Rules Committee.

In 2005 Scott left Special Olympics and continued his non-profit career with the Arthritis Foundation. As the CEO Scott led a staff of 52 in providing community-based programs and raising funds in support of research and clinical fellowship trainings in a nine state region. After 11 years with the Arthritis Foundation Scott and his wife Mary were drawn to Charlotte, NC to be closer to their three granddaughters. They made the move back east in August 2016 and Scott reconnected with Special Olympics North America in his new role on October 1, 2016.

Deja Young

Track & Field Paralympics

Served as envoy

  • 2019  –  Nigeria
  • 2020  –  Virtual
  • 2021  –  Japan

Born with brachial plexus that caused nerve damage and limited mobility to her right shoulder, Young has excelled with her unique running form. A standout on her high school track team, she lettered all four years while also competing in volleyball and softball. Despite her success, she received a lot of resistance from recruiters and college coaches because of her disability. She earned a track scholarship to Wichita State University where she was All-Conference. It was at a college meet that she learned about Paralympic track and field, a path that would lead her to her first Paralympic titles at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016. She also served as an athlete mentor as part of the Sports Envoy Program of the U.S. State Department to Nigeria in 2018.

Lorrie Fair

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2008  –  Morocco
  • 2010  –  Paraguay
  • 2012  –  Afghanistan
  • 2012  –  Venezuela
  • 2013  –  Iraq
  • 2014  –  Burma
  • 2016  –  Nepal
  • 2018  –  Pakistan
  • 2020  –  Virtual

As an undergraduate student at Carolina, Lorrie Fair Allen helped the women’s soccer team to national championships in 1996, 1997 and 1999. During the same period of time, Allen was succeeding on the field globally, becoming a FIFA World Cup champion and an Olympic silver medalist in 2000.

These days, Allen, a mother of two boys under the age of five, works as a program director for the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and volunteers as a sports envoy for the U.S. Department of State.

Her dual passion of soccer and advocacy began to take root when she arrived at Chapel Hill. The women’s soccer program is special, and one of coach Anson Dorrance’s goals is to build leaders, Allen said in a 2018 interview. “His biggest hope is that that extends beyond the soccer field.”

As a State Department sports envoy since 2008, Allen works to support the embassies’ diplomatic missions abroad by connecting with people from diverse cultures using a shared love for soccer. Allen also led a six-month expedition beginning in London and ending in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup as part of the organization, Kickabout, which she co-founded and self-funded.

At the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Allen spearheads the foundation’s grantmaking. She seeks out and identifies community-based organizations in Southern Africa that engage young people to keep themselves and their peers safe from HIV and helps them apply for grants to support them in accomplishing their goals.

In 2016, Allen became a Carolina student once again, pursuing an online master’s degree in public administration through the School of Government.

Jessica McDonald

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Virtual

Jessica McDonald is a powerful forward with a proven track record of goal-scoring—she was the first NWSL player to reach 33 regular-season goals. In 2017 and 2018, McDonald’s goals and assists helped lead the North Carolina Courage to two NWSL Shields. She is also mother to seven-year-old Jeremiah and her son is a huge part of her motivation to chase her dreams. “I want him to be proud of his mom,” McDonald says with an ear to ear smile. In the past ten years, Jessica McDonald has played for nine different professional teams—the Chicago Red Stars, SC Herford, Melbourne Victory FC, the Seattle Reign, the Portland Thorns, the Houston Dash, and the North Carolina Courage (previously the Western New York Flash). As a mother, moving from city to city wasn’t easy, but McDonald refused to give up her dream: to one day make the National Team. “I wanted to be able to tell my son Jeremiah that I went for it,” says McDonald. On November 2016, she earned her long-awaited call-up to the U.S. WNT. At age 31, her years of unwavering perseverance and steady goal scoring paid off. She’s headed to France for the 2019 World Cup, where she’ll look to inject speed and strength into the frontline.

Kristine Lilly Heavey

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2020  –  Turkey

Kristine Lilly is one of the greatest female soccer players in the history of the game. She retired as a player in 2010, but is still the world’s all-time leader in international appearances, male or female, with 354. She was the first player in U.S. history to hit 100, 200 and 300 caps, the final number being previously unimaginable.

With 130 career goals, she is third all-time in U.S. history and the all-time leader in minutes played, she has worn the U.S. uniform for 28,874 minutes. Remarkably, she appeared for the USA in four different decades and was both the youngest and oldest player ever to score for the U.S. Women’s National Team.

When she retired, she had appeared in 85% of the games the U.S. Women had ever played and only came off the bench 22 times over her legendary 23-year international career. She ended her career with 105 assists.

She played in five World Cups – winning in 1991 and 1999 — and her 30 all-time matches in World Cup play is still a U.S. record. She also played 16 matches over three Olympic Games and won two Olympic gold medals, in 1996 and 2004.

Known as one of the fittest players on the team and a tremendous teammate and leader over her entire career, she played in every World Cup and Olympic match for the USA over eight world championships from 1991-2007.

She was inducted in the United State Olympic Hall of Fame in 2012 and US Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014.

She is an Author of Powerhouse- 13 Teamwork Tactics that build Excellence and unrivaled Success. The book is about the success of the US. Women’s National team and how their tactics can help other organizations be more successful.

She also runs an operates the Kristine Lilly Soccer Academy and is Co-Founder of TeamFirst Soccer Academy. She is a Steward Health and Wellness Ambassador and a partner of Coerver Coaching. Her E-book, Girls soccer: My Story by Kristine Lilly Dream, Believe, Achieve.

She is graduate of the University of North Carolina with a degree in Communications.

She was a 4 time NCAA Champion and 4 time ACC Champion in soccer. She was a 4 time All – American.

She is married to David a Brookline Firefighter and has two daughters and lives outside the Boston area.

Tony Sanneh

Tony Sanneh

Soccer

Served as envoy

  • 2010  –  Cyprus
  • 2012  –  Ethiopia
  • 2012  –  Malaysia
  • 2014  –  Bangladesh
  • 2014  –  Bolivia
  • 2018  –  Pakistan
  • 2019  –  Kenya
  • 2019  –  Bahrain
  • 2020  –  Virtual

Among the most successful American soccer players of his generation, Tony Sanneh enjoyed an impressive 17-year professional soccer career. Major career highlights include starring in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, two Major League Soccer championships with D.C. United, and participation in the UEFA Champions League with Hertha Berlin during his six years in the German Bundesliga. Sanneh’s impact on American soccer was recognized by his selection to the Soccer America U.S. Men’s National Team “All-Decade Team,” and he was a finalist for the United States Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2018.

At the height of his playing career, he created The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) to leverage sport’s unique potential to create positive social change for under-served youth through relationships. Since retiring from professional soccer in 2010 and becoming the organization’s full-time CEO, TSF has evolved into one of Minnesota’s leading youth development organizations by serving the holistic youth development needs of increasingly diverse Twin Cities Metro, Central and Southeastern Minnesota.

The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation recently recognized the organization’s work by awarding TSF their annual Sports Award, among the highest honors any organization in the field of health equity and community well-being can receive. The 2018 RWJF Sports award validates The Sanneh Foundation’s approach to creating a culture of community health by leveraging the universal appeal of sports to provide a range of holistic youth programs that address the social determinants that help diverse youth develop the skills to become productive adults

In addition to his executive leadership role with The Sanneh Foundation, Sanneh continues to serve the United States as a Sports Envoy on behalf of the SportsUnited Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.